Autonomous air-to-air refueling : a comparison of control strategies

Venter, Jeanne Marie (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-03)

Thesis (MScEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The air-to-air refuelling of large aircraft presents challenges such as a long fuel transfer time, slow aircraft responses and a large distance between the aircraft CG and the receptacle position. This project addresses some of these issues by adding a control system to keep the receiver aircraft in the correct position relative to the tanker to enable fuel transfer. This project investigates different control strategies which are designed to control the A330-300 during refuelling at one trim condition. The controllers are based on a mathematical aircraft model which was derived from a simulation model received from Airbus. The first set of controllers uses the aircraft actuators directly. Controllers that are based on the CG dynamics and the receptacle dynamics are compared. Due to the large distance between the CG and the receptacle it was found to be essential to control the receptacle position, and not only the CG position. Also, a controller that is based on a model of the receptacle dynamics performs better. The second set of controllers uses the aircraft manual control laws as an inner loop controller. This set of controllers and the last direct actuator controller use the same axial controller that uses the engine thrust to control axial position. It was found that both the direct actuator controller and the manual control laws controller are able to keep the receptacle within the disconnect envelope in moderate turbulence. In both sets of controllers the axial controller fails to keep the receptacle reliably within the disconnect envelope in light turbulence. From the results it is concluded that both the direct actuator control and manual control laws can be used to successfully control the receptacle position in the normal and lateral positions as long as the receptacle kinematics are included in the control design. Using only the engine thrust for axial control is insufficient. Several recommendations are made to improve the axial control and also how these results can be used in future work.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die lug-tot-lug brandstof hervulling van groot vliegtuie het uitdagings soos ’n lang hervullingstyd, stadige vliegtuig dinamika en ’n groot afstand tussen die hervullingspoort en die vliegtuig massamiddelpunt. Hierdie projek spreek sommige van hierdie uitdagings aan deur ’n beheerstelsel by te voeg wat die vliegtuig in die korrekte posisie relatief tot die tenker hou vir brandstofoordrag om plaas te vind. Hierdie projek ondersoek verskillende beheerstrategieë wat ontwerp is om die A330- 300 te beheer by ’n enkele gestadigde toestand. Die beheerders is gebaseer op ’n wiskundige vliegtuigmodel wat vanaf ’n simulasiemodel afgelei is. Die simulasiemodel is vanaf Airbus verkry. Die eerste stel beheerders beheer direk die vliegtuig se beheeroppervlakke. Beheerders wat onderskeidelik die massamiddelpunt en die hervullingspoort beheer word vergelyk. Daar is gevind dat dit essensieel is om die hervullingspoort te beheer en nie slegs die massamiddelpunt nie, as gevolg van die groot afstand tussen hierdie twee punte. Die tweede stel beheerders gebruik die vliegtuig se eie beheerwette as ’n binnelusbeheerder en vorm self die buitelus. Albei stelle beheerders gebruik dieselfde aksiale beheerder wat enjin stukrag gebruik om die aksiale posisie te beheer. Daar is gevind dat beide stelle beheerders die hervullingspoort binne die ontkoppelingsbestek kan hou in die normale en laterale rigtings tydens matige turbulensie. In beide stelle beheerders is dit die aksiale beheerder wat faal om die hervullingspoort betroubaar in posisie te hou, selfs in ligte turbulensie. Vanaf die resultate word afgelei dat beide die direkte beheerder en die buitelusbeheerder gepas is om die laterale en normale posisiebeheer toe te pas mits die dinamika van die hervullingspoort in ag geneem word. Om slegs stukrag te gebruik vir aksiale beheer is nie voldoende nie, en verskeie voorstelle word gemaak om die aksiale beheer te verbeter in toekomstige navorsing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20239
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